Coffee Meringue Pillow Pancakes

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In other words, a twist on the main star of CRUMBS, hoho. Time and time again, at least once every week or every other week, this is the baby that holds its name straight, waving the ‘pillow’ flag high. So high and bright. Receiving a little social media tag from someone who’s tried and loved the recipe I fiddled till perfection almost 2 years ago still tugs at my heart, pulling its strings and sending me into a fuzzy daze for a full 5 seconds. Saturday usually demands an experimental flair, but the past one was in need of a tried and true favourite, albeit with a little twist and flick.

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There’s something so seductive about a mile-high pillow pancake.

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Had some leftover meringue from my previous recipe (do check it out, just scroll a little) and decided none shall go to waste, and permeated my reliable pillow pancakes with that, and some espresso because I was in dire need of coffee and this was another excuse to get another jolt here.

Although the batter resides with the same format as the original, ratios and all, the addition of meringue gently folded in and the dash of coffee makes each pancake belly a little more moist and slightly chewy. I did end up with a slightly more liquid batter, though the retaining of some lumps is still quite crucial for the same extra-high result. The week has been speckled with more dire Trump news and lambasting and Crazy, so settling down to my pan and butter, batter at hand, was all it took to calm a couple rattled nerves.

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Coffee Meringue Pillow Pancakes (makes around 10-11 medium pancakes)

Ingredients (vegan subs included)

190g all-purpose flour

3 tbsp white sugar

generous pinch of salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 egg (sub: 60g vegan egg replacement, or one banana, or make a flax egg by mixing 1 tbsp flax with 2 tbsp water and letting sit for 5 minutes on the counter)

40g unsalted butter (sub: vegan butter such as Earth Balance)

1 tsp vanilla extract

240ml (1 cup) whole milk/ buttermilk; use store-bought or make your own by mixing 230ml whole milk with 1 tbsp white vinegar, and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes before using (sub: almond milk or any other plant milk of choice)

1 tbsp coffee extract or shot of espresso

50g meringue, briefly crushed with a spoon or your hands (find the recipe here near the bottom; you won’t need all of it but hey the more the merrier)

Directions

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, crushed meringue and leavening agents). In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter in a microwave and set it aside, letting it cool. In another medium bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, vanilla (or insides of a vanilla bean), coffee extract/espresso shot and melted butter. Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and mix briefly with a wooden spoon or a normal dinner spoon. Continue to mix until everything is just combined, which means there will still be a few lumps, but no more streaks of flour.

Preheat your pan on medium heat and ready some butter. You know the pan is hot enough when you flick a little water onto its surface and there’s a clear sizzle. At that point, generously butter the pan and ladle tablespoonfuls of batter. I didn’t have to wait for bubbles to pop before flipping; the batter is thicker than usual and there’s no need to wait. Flip the pancakes when you notice the edges stiffening a little, or when you can slide your spatula whole underneath the bottom of the pancake. It will rise a little upon flipping, as if that action gives it life, and hence, breath. The surface should have a brown mosaic thanks to the hot butter. Once the second side is done (will take no more than 20 seconds), let cool on a paper towel. As mentioned above, these freeze wonderfully, so you can make a whole batch, have a small stack and stash the rest in a ziploc bag in the freezer.

Serve with butter and maple syrup, or whatever you want. I particularly like them with banana, its moist sweetness adjoining arms with the maple. What a Sunday.

 

Brûléed French Toast

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So I’m supposed to be reviewing the work of Wilfred Owen for a practice oral today, but here I am instead, gushing over one of the best french toast recipes I’ve come across. There’s just something about french toast in the morning which gives the breakfast-eating ritual a sacred, yet lucid and carefree touch. One of my favourite recipe blogs is Poires Au Chocolat. Emma’s writing and photography is clean, personal and humble. The hard work she puts into everything is evident in her gorgeous final products, the pride and joy of her culinary efforts.

Her recipe may be found here: Brûléed French Toast

Did I have a blow torch?

No. I didn’t cry though, because this recipe was still absolutely perfect with my cup of coffee, the papers and note jotting. Definitely missed out on a flashy statement, but nevertheless I loved this. There is a narrow egg to milk ratio, making this recipe particularly rich and joyous. And please use whole milk, ample butter and good vanilla extract. Makes all the difference. The fluffiness of the brioche was a soft pillow beneath that lightly seared crust, patches of beautiful, buttery brown. I added some warmed berries and maple syrup, but it’s sweet enough on its own.

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So. If you would.

Raspberry Cinnamon Brownies

Don’t give me a plain brownie when you know the rainbow variations it is obliged to take on any time of the day, month, year… yes go on, go on.

So I was eating Strawberry Haagen Dazs in my room and well, you know those bits of frozen strawberry? Yes well, I can’t resist them. Wait a minute. Strawberries. Jam. Baking urge. I needed to comprehend my own absurd wants whilst being weighed down by post-school exhaustion.

I saw this recipe for brownies swirled and glistening with raspberry jam and decided to put a mini itty bitty wicky butty twist on it.

Cinnamon and nutmeg and a little cream. Oh and add a touch of textured, clunky marmalade from the orange Gods. Those were all the changes and that was it. But I want to revel in the pure divinity that is therapeutic baking on a Tuesday afternoon after school, with a history essay on cue and Hitler parading his lovely square mustache on the side, hands up, chest out and all. The tiredness was overwhelming, my lids needed a break from being opened up to the world.

I had to bake. I needed to bake. I needed to feel the flushed rigour of precision and sweet chemistry (yes, this is very very literal.)

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So. Here’s what the English call a recipe.

What you need for these diddlyumptious cuboids (or cubes, whatever works for the geometrical purists):

– 150g 70% dark chocolate

– 115g unsalted butter, in chunks

– 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

– half cup white sugar

– half cup brown sugar

– 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon

– 1 tablespoon double cream

– 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract (not essence, no no)

– 2 eggs and 1 yolk

– 3/4 cup plain white flour

– half teaspoon salt

– 16 teaspoons of raspberry/blueberry/ whateverfloatsyourboat jam, or a fruit-and-sugar compote which you don’t mind atop pancakes or waffles. Though more on the thick and glutinous side. Now I’m not saying to physically and painstakingly measure out 16 teaspoons beforehand. Oh please don’t die in the kitchen. You can do this after the batter is made, when you drop 16 teaspoons of jam in little 4×4 rows on top. Plain and simple and no dying.

I love baking brownies. I really do. And talk about a one-bowl job.

What to actually do for these diddlyumptious brownies:

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C, and grease plus line a square 8-inch baking tin.

2. Melt the chocolate and butter over a bain-marie, which is really just a fancy way of saying dump the globs of black and yellow into a heatproof bowl and melt over simmering (not boiling) water.

3. Remove from heat and whisk in both sugars and cocoa powder.

4. Mix in eggs and yolk, vanilla extract and cream.

5. With a spatula or wooden spoon, add flour, salt and cinnamon. Mix until well combined and take a minute to gape at the gloopy, glossy consistency.

6. Pour into pan and drool a little more. Have any of you watched the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? The introduction is practically dedicated to chocolate porn in all its pours and drop layerings. Pretty spectacular. That Wonka was quite something.

7. With a piping bag or teaspoon (despite the desire for excruciating perfection, I still reverted to the latter), put 16 dollops of jam on top of the batter.

8. With a knife, PLAY. Swirl it around and about the batter until you get what should resemble decadent, ornate swirls fit to look part of King Henry’s grand staircase. It may look unkindly messy at this point, but don’t give up hope. The swirls show up in the most gorgeous manner possible in the oven after the batter lightens and gains crusts and steeps and crevices in all the right places.

9. Bake for 25 minutes on the dot. No more and no less. Well, unless you have a peculiar oven of course. In that case you have a little more flexibility with time. It’s typically 25-27 minutes. There I offered some room.

I was satisfied and I was done, and I went up to my room to watch Daniel Craig in The Trench for some bloody ear shots and spilling guts. Chocolate Fingers smiled up at me.

I beg you to all make this, or at least try.

For warmth in the oven and in the heart.

A Breaking Down of Days

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ToTT, the all exalted kitchen wonderland

A series of baked experiments and starry-eyed dawns. With a few new buys and several bouts of angst or ecstasy. Dream journalling and paper perusing.

This ToTT place you see in the last picture above in the heart of Dunearn has all the most wonderful culinary equipment available known to man. Stocked up on ramekins, a stiff french whisk, French Food God Michel Roux’s book on all things eggs and goodness gracious lo and behold, a fine and hardy white hand-mixer. I took one look at its gleaming skin of fresh plastic and saw my name scribbled all over (for what on earth is sharing.) I’m the type who’d rather get down on my knees and scrub wood into dirt, but when it comes to something like omelette making, these things could make a ceramic plate fluffy.

The one downside: there was not one common non-stick baking spray. You can imagine how I scrutinised every shelf for one miserable spray can. The disappointment was mentally toxic.

Tried to hide the glowering response. That long, black, attractive face of mine.

But days.

You know.

Those things which melt and dissolve into months and years in shades of memory and perhaps a tinge of melancholy. Right, and you’re expected to have a better sense of self as the digits in your physical and mental age add up (or good heavens, multiply.)

Perhaps it’s the dim light and minor-key indie music that’s putting me in a disconcertingly nostalgic mood, the sort which leaves me feeling absolutely and utterly drained; not of life, but perhaps the present itself. When I merely can’t be bothered to pay attention to the common blusterings or happenings of the world around me and all that’s left are the tumultuous shadows of soft-edged memories and maybe even a little lament. Good lord, the past is pretty rousing in its shades of wondrous gold and somnolent greys.

‘Life is but a walking shadow’

Come on, March.

(I’d talk about the lovely March wind or accompanying emotions with glorified weather here but alas, that romantic aspect is much lacking in this ever-hot dredge.)